The History of Nautical Artwork

Nautical artwork, also known as marine or maritime art, refers to any piece of figurative art, including drawings, pictures, paintings and sculptures, that is inspired by the sea. The pieces can feature seascapes, coastlines, vessels or sea animals.

The sea has always been a powerful source of inspiration for marine art – the calm blue of the waters, the high waves of the angry sea, ships and boats have been included into artwork since the earliest times, the earliest recorded works dating back to 12000 BCE. The theme became especially popular in the early days of marine explorations and of marine trade and in the period when the first marine powers delimited their territories, during the late Middle Ages and in the Renaissance. Ship depictions were popular during the Golden Age of Dutch painting – vessels and waves were a major source of inspiration for many painters, including Rembrandt.

Marine themes continued to be popular in Romantic art as well and many modern artists, including Maurice de Vlaminck, Paul Signac, Camille Pissarro and George Bellows also painted ships and water. Today, nautical scenes continue to inspire the creative mind and they are featured in realistic and modern paintings, in art photos and sculptures as well as in photos.